adrift on a cosmic ocean

Writings on various topics (mostly technical) from Oliver Hookins and Angela Collins. We have lived in Berlin since 2009, have two kids, and have far too little time to really justify having a blog.

  • Client applications and TCP reset handling
    Posted by Oliver on the 10th of June, 2018 in category Tech
    Disclaimer : Most of this post was written in 2014, but it's been languishing in my drafts folder for a long time and I thought I'd push the publish button rather than waiting to perfect it. The original context was that I was attempting to perform integration testing on a client application that needed to handle a variety of different network behaviours - including TCP resets. I mulled over how…
  • Character encodings and S3 distributed workloads
    Posted by Oliver on the 9th of June, 2018 in category Tech
    Quite some time ago at an AWS Meetup in 2014 I gave a talk (sadly, I can't find the slides) about how we used S3 and built tooling to interact with it based on our understanding of how the internals of the platform worked, and best practices as advised by AWS themselves. One large aspect of the tooling we built was a custom base 62 encoding using the math/big package from the Go standard…
  • Migrating the blog to Gatsby/Contentful/Netlify
    Posted by Oliver on the 3rd of June, 2018 in category Tech
    If you have previously read anything on this blog (directly, rather than via RSS) you will have noticed that the visuals have been updated. This is the culmination of a very long and arduous process - entirely my responsibility and self-inflicted - and as a result, it is running via Netlify , built with Gatsby and stored in Contentful . For styling I relied heavily on Tachyons and for the…
  • Culture Codes From Around The Tech World
    Posted by Oliver on the 8th of February, 2017 in category Tech
    Last week I found myself reading through all (ok not entirely all, I skipped the NASA one) of the slide decks on culturecodes.co - there are a variety of slide decks from tech companies, which attempt to describe what the company culture looks like, their values, or company processes that serve as an employee handbook. They are called Culture Codes and not Company Culture because culture can…
  • iframe-based dashboards don't work in 2017
    Posted by Oliver on the 5th of January, 2017 in category Tech
    At $current_employer (unlike $previous_employer where all these problems were sorted out), we have great huge TVs in every room but not consistently useful usage of them. I love seeing big, beautiful dashboards and KPIs visualised everywhere but right now, we just don't have that in place. No matter, this is part of my mission to improve engineering practices here and I'm happy to tackle it…
  • "We're doing our own flavour of Agile/Scrum"
    Posted by Oliver on the 13th of December, 2016 in category Tech
    I won't descend into hyperbole and say you should run, shrieking and naked into the dark night, when you hear these words. But, it's worth pondering what exactly it means. I think I've (over)used this phrase myself plenty over the years and right now find myself examining why so many people find themselves needing to invent their own version of well accepted software workflow methodologies. You…
  • What's Missing From Online Javascript Courses
    Posted by Oliver on the 6th of December, 2016 in category Tech
    Perhaps the title is somewhat excessive, but it expresses how I feel about this particular topic. I'm not a "front-end person" (whatever that is) and feel much more comfortable behind an API where you don't have to worry about design, markup, logic, styling as well as how to put them all together. That being said, I feel it's an area where I should face my fears head-on, and so I'm doing some…
  • Now using a Let's Encrypt certificate
    Posted by Oliver on the 29th of October, 2016 in category Tech
    Last week I got a notification from StartSSL that my site certificate was going to expire in a couple of weeks. Since recently there has been some news (I guess you can check the Wikipedia entry for exact details) that suggests StartSSL is in some danger of no longer being trusted by major browsers, I decided to finally get around to moving to Let's Encrypt for my certificates. When the…
  • Adding Meaning to Code
    Posted by Oliver on the 24th of August, 2016 in category Tech
    This is the product of only about 5 minutes worth of thought, so take it with a grain of salt. When it comes to how to write maintainable, understandable code, there are as many opinions out there as there are developers. Personally I favour simple, understandable, even "boring" method bodies that don't try to be flashy or use fancy language features. Method and class names should clearly signal…
  • Thoughts on creating an engineering Tech Radar
    Posted by Oliver on the 12th of August, 2016 in category Tech
    Perhaps you are familiar with the ThoughtWorks Tech Radar - I really like it as a useful summary of global technology trends and what I should be looking at familiarising myself with. Even the stuff on the "hold" list (such as Scaled Agile Framework - sometimes anti-patterns are equally useful to understand and appreciate). There's a degree of satisfaction in seeing your favourite technology…
© 2010-2018 Oliver Hookins and Angela Collins